Saturday, October 30, 2010

Göreme, Cappadocia - Fairy Chimneys and Trogolyte Living

Posted by Melissa

September 14-16, 2010
Late this evening we boarded the overnight bus to Cappadocia.  I had hoped for some empty seats so that I could stretch out a bit and maybe get some sleep, but NO, this bus is full!  So a wide awake nine hour ride for me (yes, Thane slept), winding through big towns, little villages, curving roads through the hills, and then, blessedly, watching the sun rise - we'd soon be there!  I guess you've figured out that I can't sleep sitting up - not in cars, on planes or buses.  It was worth the all-nighter though, to catch the first few glimpses of this surreal, magical, fairytale land as we pulled into Göreme.
Göreme is another Unesco World Heritage Site (we try to see as many Unesco sites as we can in our travels).  Looking around, it is easy to see why this spectacular landscape with its rock carved churches, troglodyte villages and underground towns, should be treasured and protected for future generations.
Rock cut Roman tomb, in the center of town
We spent our first day wandering around, getting our bearings and marveling at the numerous cave dwellings and pigeon houses carved into the sandstone hillsides.
View from the roof top patio in our hotel
At work, roof top terrace
Dinner was a delicious bowl of beef güveç and delicious flatbread for Thane and a lamb roll-up plus salad for me.  Yum!
We watched the moon rise over a minaret next to the Roman tomb fairy chimney as we ate this dinner in the warm evening air at our little sidewalk cafe. .  .  .  What can I say but "Magical"?

We were able to check into our home away from home, The Star Cave Hotel, the next morning (we had arrived a day early after leaving the mosquitoes in Pamukkale behind).  We were soooo excited, we were going to sleep in a cave room!  Real troglodyte living for us! AND - we have eight days here!!
Our front door - Room 104
All of the etching/carvings on the wall and the niches in the wall are original to this old cave room. The owner added only the lighting.
Interior - Our room
This room (pic below) is located on the upper level of the hotel. The only access is via the wood ladder leaning on the rock. Thane was checking it out, but I prefer a walk in, not a climb-up room.

The Star Cave has a large, out door lounge area covered in pillows and rugs, just right for reading on a hot afternoon.
or for a good game of Tavla with Ahmet.  He won!
and of course, a little internet time, researching travel options and getting caught up with family and friends.

After a day of checking out the local area, we road the local dolmuş to nearby Uçhisar.... 
Uçhisar street scene
... to climb the Uçhisar Castle! Yep, to the top of this we go!!

Fairy Chimney seen while hiking up Uçhisar Castle
Almost there!  Hi Thane!  Wave to the camera!!

Woo Hoo!!!  Made it to the top! - The highest point in Cappadocia!

The panoramic view is spectacular!

These Byzantine graves are carved into the top of the castle mountain.

Because climbing the castle was just not enough exercise for the day we decided to hike back to Göreme through Pigeon Valley which connects the two towns. But first - lunch in this little cafe with views that go forever.

Street scene below the cafe
We walked the dusty trails, past houses like this (this one is for sale!)
and more fairy chimneys (this one is occupied)
through the canyon and home.  But, not before making lots of wrong turns and ending up in places where only mountain goats could get through and other places where I had to walk like a crab on all fours to keep from sliding down the loose, sandstone slope.  Once was enough for me in this canyon!

Up next: More Göreme, a hike in another valley to a little campsite and garden for a picnic lunch with Ahmet, a visit to an underground city, a visit to a Byzantine monastic settlement and pilgrimage site, AND a WEDDING!! ~ I may need two more blog posts to cover it all.


Anonymous said...

The pictures are wonderful! Something you would see in a magazine-simply lovely!
I really liked the descriptions of each pic.
Can't wait to see your next post! xoxox

Melissa Keith said...

Thanks Anna - it is very easy to get good pics in this area! Hope to have the next post up in a couple of days. xoxo to you!

Keith/Dad Melissa/Mom said...

We saw this area via Michael Palin - how wonderful that you get to see it in person! Thanks for the photos!!

larry1960 said...

Great descriptions and photos of a great trip.

Terry said...

I've been following your travels with great interest. As an honesttogod hobbit I now prefer to hear about the adventures of others than to experience them myself. Yours are some of the best vicarious experiences I've ever had! Thank you so much Thane and Melissa!

Rosemary said...

Fabulous! Reminded me of Matera with all the cave homes. Here's a link to our Italy blog: